Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education


Academic journal article Journal of Historical Research in Music Education


Article excerpt

In a report to the U.S. Bureau of Education for 1919-1920, Osbourne McConathy counted eighty-eight bands in the public schools and colleges in the United States. (1) By 1941, it was estimated that more than 50,000 public school and university bands existed. (2) Fueled by progressivism, the band contest movement, and a boom in extracurricular activities, the revolution placing bands in schools grew at an unprecedented rate until a level of saturation was reached.

At some future date, scholars will write about the elements that constitute our students' present band experiences. There have been static and dynamic components of bands in schools through the decades; the developments of jazz, graded ensemble music, and the wind ensemble concept come to mind. These days, however, we have quite another "band" revolution. And, it is not found in the schools.

The first two versions of the video game Guitar Hero reportedly sold six million copies, and a third version is currently a best seller. A new rival game called Rock Band is challenging Guitar Hero by adding drums and a microphone in what is becoming a battle of the pretend bands.

In case you are not familiar with these video games, they fall under the "rhythm music genre" of electronic entertainment. On a computer or TV monitor, Guitar Hero players see dots moving down a path shown to the music of recognizable rock tunes. They press buttons on the neck and body of an electronic apparatus shaped like a guitar to correspond with the movement of the dots they see on the monitor. Points are awarded as the player presses the proper buttons at the right time. With each successful run, the level of difficulty rises until virtuosity is reached. One sees all of the physical gyrations and head bobs of real rock guitar musicians while watching successful players negotiate the solos. To be really proficient, it helps to remember specific songs by specific rock artists.

Except, they are not actually playing a musical instrument nor are they creating music.

What they are doing is steadily acquiring a measurable skill, interacting with music, and, finally, performing in a certain fashion. …

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